There's no time like the present to turn a bad run around, and Chivas USA will attempt to do just that this evening when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps at "home" (7:30 pm PT, TWC Deportes/Tickets obviously available). The Goats are on a four-game losing streak at the moment, their longest to date in 2014, while the 'Caps just beat MLS Cup champs Sporting Kansas City, and are probably feeling pretty confident coming into this game, as they should. But can CUSA show they have Vancouver's number again?
Let's preview the game!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 23 points (6-11-5), 9th in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -15 (21/36); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-W
Vancouver Whitecaps: 32 points (7-4-11), 5th in Western Conference, 8th place overall; Goal Difference: 4 (33/29); Last five matches: W-D-D-D-D
Who's going to play in defense? At least two of Akira Kaji, Donny Toia, and Tony Lochhead will start in this game, possibly all three if Lochhead plays in central defense again. Beyond that, there are 1-2 positions with questions about who will play. Bobby Burling has been moved to questionable on the injury report, so he could be back in the lineup at center back, though Wilmer Cabrera seems to prefer making sure players are ready to go before playing them. With Carlos Bocanegra set to miss another game, however, and first CB reserve Eriq Zavaleta also showing up on the injury report as questionable this week, Cabrera may either have to hope for the best and get Burling back on the field, or turn back to Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who is finally healthy but who seems to be firmly behind Zavaleta on the depth chart at the moment, as he was dropped following the team's awful performance against the Colorado Rapids a few weeks back.
So, with scoring continuing to be a concern, we're back to the age-old conundrum for this CUSA side: Can they field a defense capable of giving the attack a chance to grab a result? Put simply, if Burling can't go in this game, their chances of playing well on the backline seem to dip considerably. That said, it may be a matter of Bocanegra's absence being the bigger one, and again, he's not going to feature in this game. As a result, this could turn out very much against the Goats, with the only upside being the fact that younger players will get game minutes.
Why Chivas will win this match: Despite their struggles of late, Chivas have played the Whitecaps pretty well the past couple years, losing just once in their last five meetings. And while Vancouver has hit some impressive heights this season, they also are apt to fail to show up in other games, making them a promising-if-inconsistent team in the Western Conference. And CUSA's best weapon, Erick Torres, has scored four goals in his last three games against the Whitecaps, something that appears to be in Vancouver's heads right now.
On that front, Chivas USA have stepped up their social media game, deciding to have some fun with the Whitecaps before the game (now, let's hope the team can back up that swagger in this game):
There are considerable concerns about this team heading into this game, on both sides of the ball, but they've got reason for confidence against this team, and if Cubo can score again, and if the makeshift defense can make it work, they can certainly get back to winning ways.
Why Vancouver will win this match: Like Chivas, they are in their first season with their head coach, and have been integrating new pieces into their team this year. But they appear to be farther along in that quest, in part because they didn't bottom out the same way as CUSA did and because they seems to have a better talent level overall, including potential MVP candidate Pedro Morales, who passes the ball around better than basically anybody in MLS right now. Add to that the teams' form, with Chivas picking up points in one of their last five, and the 'Caps picking up points in each of the last five, and they seem to be the clear favorites here. And like the Goats' opponents last week, history may prove no match for a team on a major slump, like this Chivas USA team appears to be in right now.
Why this game will end in a draw: Well, Chivas have drawn just five games this season (compared to Vancouver's 11), and they just don't seem to be a team inclined to tie. Despite that, these teams did draw in their first meeting this season, and have drawn quite a bit over the years. And as I always say, while a win is preferred, a draw would be a good result for Chivas, since they would stop their losing streak and possibly find some momentum before heading across the country in a tricky road game in New England, and then taking on the big rivals at the end of the month.
Chivas: Carlos Bocanegra (concussion), Thomas McNamara (knee), Martin Rivero (knee), Bobby Burling (knee - listed as questionable), Marvin Chavez (hip - listed as questionable), Eriq Zavaleta (hamstring - listed as questionable)